If you get injured at the gym, the nature of the incident and the liability waiver you signed will determine if you are entitled to compensation.
People are testing their physical limits with various gym routines more than ever before. Unfortunately, the more complex the exercise regime, the more your chances of getting injured, which is why proper supervision and instruction are essential in gyms. There are several types of injuries people get at the gym; mostly, these injuries come from inadequate stretching before starting an exercise routine or the incorrect use of the gym equipment.
Remember, even if your injury was caused by a careless instructor, determining whether you can legally seek compensation will depend on the membership documents you signed when you joined.
Most Common Gym Injuries
Unless a valid liability waiver protects the owner from lawsuits for personal injuries, the liability falls on the owner under premises liability laws.
Exercise equipment is often the cause of gym injuries, especially from heavyweight machines. These include injuries to the hands, wrists, back, neck, head, fractures, broken bones, spinal cord, and chest injuries. Sometimes gyms and health clubs also have hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms, and then slips and falls from wet and slippery floors are also gym-related injuries.
Sometimes, poorly maintained equipment and negligence cause injuries to gym members. However, signing a waiver does not absolve gyms from all accidents and injuries during a workout.
Types of Waivers
These are the most common liability waivers:
Total Waiver of Liability – You sign a waiver that the gym is free of all liability for any injury on their premises. These are comprehensive waivers, making them difficult to enforce in a court.
Negligence Waiver – These waivers are signed to help protect gym owners and employees. However, if you can prove intentional negligence, the release cannot be enforced.
Intentional Injury Waiver – An intentional injury waiver can rarely hold up in any court because the law doesn’t condone reckless conduct.
Understanding What the Waiver Says
Often the language in waivers is left broad intentionally. Some examples are:
- Using clauses like “any use” and “any activity.”
- Using the term that you “willingly assume” all risks associated with your program, including death.
- Also, using the term “willingly assume” the risk of injury or death due to your not using it correctly or equipment defects.
- You release the facility, its principals, and employees from liability for anything connected with an activity you have chosen to participate in.
- You release them for injuries caused by the facility’s negligence, its employees, or both.
- You are asked to sign that you have no pre-existing health problems that may affect your ability to do the activity.
When Can You Sue?
Even if you are very severely injured at your gym, there are possibilities that the owners or employees of the facility might not be held responsible. That will depend on the waiver of liability provision in the document you signed when you joined the gym. However, even though you think you have given up your right to file a personal claim, there are some rare instances when you can sue the gym for your injuries.
Despite the broadness of the language in the waiver you signed, intentional or reckless conduct by anyone there, including another customer, negates the release. For example, if the employee or owners knew the equipment had a defect or a customer assaulted you, a waiver won’t help the facility. Additionally, all types of waivers can be challenged legally, and in cases that go to court, the judge may not uphold an overly broad waiver.
Gym owners are held responsible for providing a safe environment for their patrons under premises liability law. Reckless behavior on their part means that you can institute a lawsuit against them, especially if their equipment isn’t working correctly. If you have been hurt, ask a personal injury lawyer for advice.